Michael Elmgreen (Denmark, 1961) and Ingar Dragset (Norway, 1969) have been a team since 1995. In their work, which includes performances, objects, and installations, they examine the socio-cultural structures manifested in art and society. Since 1997, they have been working on a consecutively numbered series of Powerless Structures which makes use of two neutralities: the supposed neutrality of a minimalist formal vocabulary in architecture and art, and that of the color white. The institutionalized container for art, the White Cube, neutral and yet exceedingly charged with ideological Implications, takes center stage in their Investigations because they are "artists" and because the cube represents the space of social presence officially allotted to them. Their spatial structures and objects guilefully expose the blind spots in assumptions of the Cube's formal autonomy and neutrality by introducing sexual and paradoxical elements or juxtaposing inside and outside or private and public, not as ideological opposites but rather as issues under debate. They do not focus on the "building" as such, but rather on the process of building as a process of generating meaning and a forum for discussing the premises which apply to both artists and users.
In their studies of the White cube, Elmgreen & Dragset follow a venerable tradition of examining the premises of art and its reception, from Marcel Duchamp's contextual displacement of objects to the critical voices of the sixties and seventies, which revolutionized the institution of art and abandoned the museum — Robert Barry, Daniel Buren, Michael Asher, Dan Graham to name a few salient exponents—to context art and its return to the museum and the institutional criticism that dominated the late eighties and nineties of the 20" century. In 1976, the artist and theoretician Brian O'Doherty was the first to engage in the theoretical study of social "placelessness" and the elevation of the White Cube, as an empty white cell, to an icon of the 20" century. His critical investigations (Inside the White Cube) still offer valuable points of departure in today's discourse on art.